Count on it. NFL owners and players will not resolve their differences by March 3. That will crimp offseason activities for who knows how long.
The two sides agree to disagree in continuing discussions about the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to resume March 1. That comes after six days of meetings up to now.
“At bottom, some progress was made,” said mediator George Cohen of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service. “But very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties. Nonetheless, I recommended and the parties have agreed to resume the mediation process in my office commencing next Tuesday (March 1). During the intervening weekend, the parties have been asked by us to assess their current positions on those outstanding issues.”
The current CBA allows the league to evaluate rookies at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and to conduct the 2011 NFL Draft April 28-30. Teams can sign any unrestricted free agents while the current CBA is in effect. All bets are off after March 3. Teams may not sign players, including drafted rookies until a new agreement is in place.
Why this is important to fans
Most fans believe that winning titles is a matter of getting star players. The truth is that stars don’t make teams. They emerge from them. Finding the right players who fit your system, weaving them into a cohesive team with the talent of win and the resilience to overcome adversity are offseason activities. The better it is done, the better your team’s chance to make the playoffs. The Redskins lost out on the 2010 post-season bucause of their offseason decisions.
The contract dispute hinders every team but is a heavier burden for teams with weak management, like the Redskins. We hope Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen strengthen the front office. Several of Shanahan’s 2010 decisions have shaken a lot of confidence.
Washington won two Super Bowls in strike-shortened seasons of the 1980s. Bobby Beathard, Joe Gibbs and Charley Casserley ran those teams. Casserly put together the 1987 replacement players who positioned the ‘Skins for the post-season Super Bowl run. Beathard, Gibbs and Casserly were a stellar crew that few front offices can match.
Shanahan and Allen would have their hands full rebuilding the Redskins under normal circumstances. They can’t even talk to players after March 3 until a new deal is in place. Washington needs every edge it can get. The lockout gets in the way.
NFLLabor.com – Full statement by the Mediator
Pretty boring stuff, but absolutely essential to a healthy league. In my state of denial, I hope this thing will be done by the end of the Draft. The reality is that a lockout may not end until the owners feel genuine financial harm. It could take a couple of weeks into the regular season before that happens.